Sep 26, 2007
September 26, 2007
Spending measure buys Congress more time for final appropriations bill
Workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory got a six-week break from steep budget cuts as congressional leaders worked out a temporary spending bill that funds the lab at last year’s levels.
The measure, called a continuing resolution, allows Congress more time to work out a final appropriations bill for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins Monday.
There will be no layoffs in the next six weeks, but that was the case anyway, a lab spokesman said. The measure was crafted by House and Senate leaders, and would cover 12 appropriations bills that have yet to be enacted into law. It will likely be voted on later this week.
The resolution “provides us with some much needed breathing room and of course we greatly appreciate the hard work of our senators, especially Sen. (Pete) Domenici,” lab spokesman Kevin Roark said.
Domenici is the ranking Republican on the Senate subcommittee that pays for energy and water projects nationwide.
“This buys us time to redouble our efforts to put together... a funding bill that will allow our nation’s nuclear complex to continue critical nuclear deterrent efforts and to minimize the layoffs at LANL and Sandia contemplated under the House-passed bill,” Domenici said.
One worst-case scenario at Los Alamos, as requested by government agencies, could result in 2,500 layoffs.
“This is as good as we could have hoped for in the near term,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said. “It maintains the status quo while we fight to ensure that our labs are funded as close as possible to President Bush’s budget request.”
Roark added this measure does not substantially change the lab’s planning process. “We still need to see what kind of spending bill comes out of Congress in November,” he said.
The continuing resolution expires Nov. 16.
U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said he was pleased with the resolution but again encouraged the lab to diversify its mission.
Lab director Michael Anastasio has previously told workers the budget could be flat at best or a $350 million cut at worst. The lab’s current budget is more than $2.1 billion, and 12,115 workers are employed there. Of that total, 9,046 work for Los Alamos National Security LLC, which operates the lab for the government.
Contact Andy Lenderman at 986-3073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.